Thursday, September 18, 2008

144 - Ki Seitzei

The book of Iyov begins with a dialogue between Hashem and the Satan, which, as Rashi tells us, took place on Rosh Hashana. Hashem asks the Satan, "Have you taken notice of my servant Iyov? There is no one like him in the entire land: a pure, upright man who fears G-d and abstains from bad." To which the Satan answers that he acts this way because all is well with him. "Send out Your hand and destroy all that he has [and let us see] if he does not curse You."

Rav Wolbe (Ma'amerei Yemei Ratzon pg. 66) extrapolates from this story that the judgment of Rosh Hashana revolves around the extent that one overcame the impediments and nisyanos that arose and threatened to hinder his service of Hashem. The Satan was claiming that Iyov could not be considered the ultimate tzaddik since he had not faced trials and overcome them, and, therefore, his verdict was that he be tested with nisyonos. However, the judgment for us, who constantly face nisyonos, focuses on the extent to which we overcame those nisyonos.

There are people that feel they are not on the level to overcome the nisyonos that they face. Some despair and get depressed, while others inwardly say that all will be fine because, in their lowly state of affairs, the need to overcome nisyonos doesn't apply to them. The first step in the teshuva process is eliminating these thoughts. We must uproot the feelings of despair and the notion that on our level we "can't accomplish."

In this week's parsha the Torah commands us, "When a man commits a transgression that deserves death and he is killed, you shall then hang him on a tree. Do not leave his body hanging. . . for the disgrace of Hashem is hanging" (Devarim 21, 22-23). Rashi explains that such an act would be a disgrace for Hashem Himself, because men (and more specifically Bnei Yisroel) are made in His image. Rashi elucidates this idea with a mashal: There were identical twins who took different paths in life. One brother became a king while the other became a thief and was hanged. Everyone who saw the thief hanging mistakenly thought that it was the king who was hanging. Says the Mashgiach, even in a situation where a man transgressed one of the most serious aveiros and as a result was killed and hanged, he still retains his Divine image and is considered "a twin brother of the King."

There is no situation that calls for depression or despair. Everyone has an element of kedusha inside of them – they must merely believe and admit that it exists. This is the first step in the process of teshuva: teaching oneself, and absorbing the idea, that there is an element of kedusha found within each person. One should not get bogged down by the amount of aveiros he has accumulated. Rather, he should recognize that his true identity is one of kedusha and not one of aveiros. Focusing on this idea will bring one to abandon his negative actions and return to Hashem and a life of kedusha.

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